Chelsea Girl

My Favourite Theatre Director At The Roundhouse

by Chelsea Girl on February 19, 2013

I first discovered Robert Lepage’s work at the National Theatre when he brought Needles and Opium to London and ever since then I’ve been under the spell of this Quebecois director.

So needless to say, I was over the moon to hear that Lepage and his theatre company Ex Machina were returning to London with a new play. Playing Cards 1: Spades, with Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds to come.

Playing Cards: Spades - Robert Lepage

Used to seeing Lepage’s work at the National Theatre and having seen The Dragon Trilogy at The Barbican, it was a refreshing change to watch his latest play at the Roundhouse. I love this venue and the last time I had been here was for the Gorillaz gig a couple of years ago; so it had been a while.

Spades is set in the round, which creates a sense of intimacy that is relevant to the storytelling of the play: several lives cross paths inside a Las Vegas hotel/casino and as an audience, we become voyeurs into the characters’ deepest and darkest secrets.

The Roundhouse - Robert Lepage

Every angle of the character is exposed whilst the stage mechanics manage to transport us from the Nevada desert to the different hotel rooms where the action takes place. The stage transforms itself from a spa jacuzzi to a hotel bar seamlessly.

But Lepage’s wizardry isn’t purely technical. The characters’ journeys are mesmerising and the choreography on stage hypnotising.

Here is a little taster …

And here is a video with reactions from some of the audience …

After watching the production that night, the audience were very fortunate to be able to watch Lepage being interviewed live on stage. Lepage discussed his working practice with Ex Machina as well as the development process of Spades. It was also fascinating to listen to Lepage talk about his evolution as an artist and the reasons why he decided to step away from the proscenium arch and onto the round stage, in order to break down the invisible barrier between the performers and the audience by getting rid of the fourth wall altogether.

For Lepage fans expecting to see theatricality reliant on projection screens, you may be disappointed by this production because Lepage has consciously moved away from filmic devices to aid his storytelling. Instead, Spades is a continuous work in progress that looks to examine the human condition through the lives of his characters and therefore it is ever evolving.

Robert Lepage is one of the most fascinating visionaries of our time and this is why I don’t mind my expectations being thwarted. The basis of good drama is the element of surprise and Lepage always manages to provide this, even if at times you’re not sure where he’s leading you. His theatre is pure theatricality that immerses you into another world. It is pure escapism on a dream-state level and I, for one, cannot wait for him to return to London with the next three playing cards.

Playing Cards 1: Spades runs until 2nd March at the Roundhouse.

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Eating by the river in London

by Chelsea Girl on February 18, 2013

After the fine weekend we’ve just had, I feel inspired to write about one of my favourite places to eat. In the springtime and summer, there’s nothing I love more than to be by the river. Combine that with my love for Mexican food, Wahaca along the South Bank has become one of the first places that spring to mind when I think about somewhere to eat.

Wahaca - South BankThe restaurant is located inside eight shipping containers that make for a pretty interesting interior. There are two floors and you can sit outside too. My favourite part of sitting upstairs, by the window, is the view that always reminds me of how wonderful London is.

The specials on the menu change every month but if you’re not familiar with Wahaca’s food in general expect Mexican street food. The portions are generally small and good for sharing, unless you decide on something like a burrito which is filling and plenty enough for one.

Wahaca

If you are new to Wahaca’s menu, it might be worth trying the tasting menu for two. This allows you to try different platters to find out which one(s) you like the most. Here is a selection of dishes as examples:

Wahaca South Bank

Wahaca South Bank

Wahaca South Bank

Wahaca South Bank

Wahaca South BankAnd at Wahaca, no meal would be complete without their churros. They’re very good here!

Churros - WahacaSo thinking about eating and drinking by the river, do you have a favourite place where you like to hang out in the spring and summer? Care to share? x

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My Valentine’s Day Present from Aubaine Restaurant

by Chelsea Girl on February 14, 2013

Earlier this week I picked up my Valentine’s Day present from my local Aubaine restaurant on Brompton Cross.

Aubaine RestaurantIt was slightly embarrassing because I had the bf with me and when I told him I needed to pick up a V-Day present, he initially thought it was for him. So I had to explain that this gift was actually from Aubaine themselves to me.

Excited about what was in the box, I opened it as soon as possible to find this peeking back at me:

Aubaine RestaurantA chocolate cake I thought and instantly I abandoned any idea of giving up chocolate for Lent. How could I? I love chocolate too much. And so I opened the box further to have a clearer look …

Aubaine RestaurantBut as I looked closer, I realised it wasn’t a cake. It was actually a box. My present was inside a box made from Valrhona chocolate – but what was inside?  Macarons! Macarons delivered in a chocolate box. Could there be anything better for my sweeth tooth?

Aubaine Restaurant

Macarons in a chocolate boxInside were two pistachio macarons and two raspberry …

Aubaine - RaspberryAubaine’s slogan for Valentine’s Day is “Say It With Flowers Macarons” and I couldn’t agree more. Flowers are always lovely but for Valentine’s, why not try something different? Macarons in a chocolate box is such a delectable experience and who says you can’t give both anyway?

For more information on Aubaine’s Valentine’s Day treats including the chance to win a Tiffany necklace with your V-Day dinner, click here.

Thank you very much Aubaine and Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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Kraftwerk at Tate Modern: Techno Pop

by Chelsea Girl on February 13, 2013

I went to one of the best gigs I’ve ever had the luck of seeing last night: Kraftwerk at the Tate Modern. It was the sixth night in their eight date run of concerts, which you probably heard about with regards to the fans’ desperation to get tickets.

Tate’s website had crashed, the phone lines were jammed and mixed messages were being sent out to those trying to buy their way into one of the most anticipated concerts of recent times. I was on the phone on-and-off for eight hours. Not because I am a die-hard fan but because the bf is and I wanted Kraftwerk at the Tate Modern to be one of his Christmas presents. In the end, I called up the members’ line and was fast-tracked to the booking line, wishing that I had been informed that this was possible in the first place because of course I would have saved a lot of time.

Kraftwerk at Tate Modern

Still, I cannot complain anymore because that day of pressing redial was so very worth it. The bf loved his pressie and a couple of friends who we invited along had an amazing time: the night being described as legendary.

But my write-up of last night’s gig isn’t going to attempt to riff on the geekery of Kraftwerk’s music. I’m not that much of a muso and I’ll probably risk offending die-hard Kraftwerk fans with my limited music knowledge.

So instead I’ll write this post from the perspective of an electro music fan. I love Daft Punk and have done so for years. When I watched Kraftwerk on stage, it was clear that this seminal German group are the Godfathers of electro. You could say that their appearance was reminiscent of Daft Punk’s style in Tron but then again, you would have to remember which came first.

Yet Kraftwerk wasn’t restricted to electro bleeps. There were also deep club beats that were very old school house and there was also a nod to the Detroit electronic music scene. We were almost at the front: not too close so we could enjoy the 3D visuals, but close enough to feel the bass pumping itself into the Turbine Hall.

The sounds had substance, the visuals were a true spectacle that were off-the-scale, and probably to the annoyance of those who couldn’t get tickets, the space was blissfully not crammed. It was an experience to soak up and every single minute was a true wonder.

Kraftwerk have two more nights to go: tonight and tomorrow. And whilst they are officially sold out, I’ve heard that ‘returns’ are being sold on the night. My friend’s cousin managed to buy a return on Saturday night at cost price (£60), having just waited from 8.30pm. The gig starts promptly at 9pm. We also bumped into someone who had bought a returned ticket last night. He had been waiting for two hours because he didn’t want to miss out: Techno Pop is his favourite Kraftwerk album. So, if you are desperate to buy a ticket, it isn’t too late to try – and you may not have to pay £500 or whatever is supposed to be the going price on ebay. Good luck!

To end my post, here are a few pics I took from last night. I took a lot more but sadly, they were too blurry to post.

Kraftwerk at Tate Modern

Kraftwerk at Tate Modern

Kraftwerk at Tate Modern

Kraftwerk at Tate Modern

Tate 7

Kraftwerk at Tate Modern

I also recorded a video of their poptastic track, The Model:

And I uploaded a couple more clips onto my new Vine account: King’s Road Rocks.

Aero Dynamik was one of my favourite tracks of the night. Listening to it on You Tube doesn’t really do it justice but at 1.05 when the bass kicks in, and imagine it pumping hard through the Turbine Hall, Kraftwerk smashed it. (I didn’t record this video.)

If you managed to see Kraftwerk play at Tate Modern, which was your favourite moment (if you could choose one)? Or did you think it was all brilliant?

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Pancake Feasting at The Botanist

by Chelsea Girl on February 11, 2013

There are two reasons why I’m excited that it’s Pancake Tuesday tomorrow: 1. I love pancakes and 2. Because Pancake Day is essentially the eve of the first day of Lent, which means the countdown to Easter and thus springtime is about to begin. Oh yes!

Last year I celebrated Shrove Tuesday at The Botanist and I can’t recommend their one-day-only menu enough, especially the foie gras crêpe with wild mushrooms and cauliflower purée. The sweeter specials include blood orange Crêpe Suzette; a caramelised apple crêpe with vanilla ice cream and Calvados syrup; and a banana and chocolate crêpe with pistachio praline. Here is my post, which I wrote last year if you’d like to see some pics.

Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to indulge in pancakes tomorrow: the day looks packed and in the evening I’ll be at the Tate Modern for the Kraftwerk gig. So yesterday I popped into The Botanist to review their American pancakes which are served with cured crispy bacon and maple syrup, to make up for it.

The other week I was somewhere else and when I asked for some bacon on my pancakes, I was given a funny look. I had to explain that it was an American thing and whilst the woman was gracious about the whole confusion, I did feel slightly weird. So needless to say, yesterday I was very happy to be heading somewhere for breakfast that was on the same page as me.

And here is the dish, which is a permanent fixture on The Botanist’s breakfast menu.

American Pancakes

The BotanistThe bf ordered the crêpe complète, which is a crêpe served with egg, bacon and gruyere cheese. And I have to admit I had slight food envy because it made me think back to the foie gras crêpe from last year.

Crêpe Complete at The BotanistFor drinks I had an orange juice and a spinach and apple smoothie, which I was dubious about initially but which I actually liked. It wasn’t as spinachy as I’d imagined it would be.

Spinach and Apple SmoothieThe Botanist’s Shrove Tuesday menu is available for one day only (12th February 2013) but if you don’t get a chance to try it, there is always pancakes on the breakfast menu. Enjoy!

The Botanist, 7 Sloane Square, London, SW1W 8EE

 

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